Game 1 of these NBA finals is over. Everything pretty much went as expected; Spurs teamwork outdid LeBron and the Supremes. There's still no doubting how good LeBron is...the Spurs threw pretty much the entire team at him on most plays, leaving low percentage shots, dish offs and kick outs as LeBron's only options.
While there's no denying that the Spurs' single-minded "Stop LeBron" defense only further proves how good this guy is, there's also no denying that the Spurs are a well-oiled Championship machine. They are all business, they have done this before, they play unselfishly, and, well, they're the better team in these finals.
That said, I feel a disturbance in the Spurs Force, like thousands of voices (those in the SBC Center) cried out, and were suddenly silenced (like when LeBron hit that second three-pointer in the 4th).
Really, Obi Wan? Tell me more.
Good teams make adjustments. The Cavs lost on the offensive boards 13-9, lost on the defensive boards 30-23, and LeBron was held to 4-of-16 shooting - and the Cavs only lost by 9. The Spurs played a great all-around game, but the Cavs can play better, and if LeBron studies enough film and figures out where and how he can get his shots (and I believe he is savvy enough to do that), the Spurs could be in for a fight. Don't forget, the Cavs were down 2-0 against the Pistons and then won 4 straight.
My advice to the Cavs? Pick, and pick, and pick again for LeBron. It looked to me like the Cavs stopped playing after the first pick set for LeBron, assuming he would use his athleticism to score. That worked sporadically against the Pistons (aside from the amazing game 5, when it worked consistently, because LeBron played like Zeus), but it will not against the more talented Spurs. The Spurs defense swarmed effectively because there were no bodies in their way. If the Spurs are going to send a boatload of defenders in LeBron's direction, then the Cavs must set an equally tenacious swarm of picks. Too often, one pick was set, and the roll to the basket was ineffective because the entire Spurs team was already in the lane waiting for LeBron (or for his long dish, which was regularly intercepted). Give LeBron the ball, yes, but don't expect him to take on five Spurs by himself, or force him to bullet pass an assist from three point line - allow penetration (that's what she said... no time... but she did... NO TIME!).
Kudos to the officials in this game. They finally let the teams play. I am so sick of officials falling for plays that "look like fouls." They didn't break up the action with free throws every five seconds, and that is a much more enjoyable game to watch.
For those of you in need of the schedule for the rest of the series, allow me to save you some time:
Up next: Game 2
Followed by: Game 3
Then: Game 4
If necessary (it will be): Game 5
If necessary (it will be): Game 6
If necessary (it won't be): Game 7
In the spirit of the NBA Lottery system, the order of games 3 and 4 may be reversed (whereby game 4 is actually played first) if, by his capricious and arbitrary will, Commissioner Stern deems it to be for the betterment of all basketball kind.
Labels: Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James, NBA Finals, San Antonio Spurs